A dinner party to die for saves the season for a Harbour Grace inn

Can you spot the killer … before dessert is served? Welcome to the murder mystery at Rose Manor Inn.

Hundreds of people want a chance to die at this Victorian manor

The guests, with the smiles, gather in the living room. (Alyson Samson/CBC)

On a dark and stormy night, the town of Harbour Grace is consumed by a gruesome murder. 

The Rose Manor Inn is filled with 10 suspects, who I witnessed turning on each other with accusations of a deed most foul.

Was the deceased killed in the kitchen with the butcher's knife? Or in the library with a candlestick?

We're not entirely sure. But we do have three more dinner courses to figure it out.

Also being revealed on this evening is how the Rose Manor Inn, a bed and breakfast that used to see its business drop practically dead by the end of the tourism season, is finding new life in winter with a little lighthearted murder. 

Victorian inn sets the mood

"When we took over Rose Manor, we wanted it to be a full-time opportunity," owner Erika Pardy told me. 

The mistress of the manor, Pardy thought the Victorian setting was the ideal atmosphere for one of her patrons to shuffle off this mortal coil.

Erika Pardy is the owner of Rose Manor Inn, and host of the murder mystery events. (Alyson Samson/CBC)

"The house was built in 1878 so any opportunity where we could show off that era is a great creative arena. We know that anybody can do a murder mystery but would everybody have the place to do it?" Pardy said.

"I think that's what makes us unique."

The Rose Manor Inn is the scene of the crime ... er, uh ... fun. (Zach Goudie/CBC)

The mystery dinners were a hit from the start, with a 500-person waiting list. That's a lot of people wanting to die at the manor.   

"It was something that we tried. We had no idea it was going to be as successful as it is," said Pardy.  

Until their arrival, the guests do not know exactly what they're in for, or for whom the bell will toll.

They know they are attending a party, with a four-course meal. They do not know whether they will meet their own fate, or — more important — who did it.

A little character detail 

Speaking of which, I know this has you asking: did the butler do it?

The guests are certainly prepared for that option. 

Wayne Penney gets into character as Winston the butler. (Alyson Samson/CBC)

"When they come they're completely in character," said Pardy, adding that guests put thought into their appearance.

"They go all out," Pardy said.

We take you to a dinner party in Harbour Grace that people are just <i>dying</i> to attend. 8:19

Peter Laracy, who came to the event as Dr. Dijon, and throughout the evening maintained the French accent of the costume-clad neurosurgeon, said a little character detail can be plenty. 

"We have a little bit of information that's provided to us through the cards that we have, but through the process of interacting with people, we take the piece that we've been given and we have license to extrapolate from that and let our character grow," Laracy said.

Peter Laracy comes to the dinner as Dr. Dijon, a French neurosurgeon. (Zach Goudie/CBC)

"You can give the same piece of information to different people but it becomes very personal experience," he said.

On this particular Saturday night, the butler was innocent.  

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About the Author

Alyson Samson

Alyson Samson is a journalist working with the CBC in Newfoundland and Labrador.

With files from Zach Goudie